White Light Cinema Presents

Ken Jacobs 3: Old and New

Friday, February 27 – 8:00pm

At The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

(Note: This screening was moved last minute due to flooding at the Nightingale. The screening took place at Heaven Gallery - 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Floor - at 8:30pm)


White Light Cinema presents three rare short works by the great experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs.

For more than fifty years Ken Jacobs has been at the forefront of experimental filmmaking. From his early anarchist-comic films with Jack Smith and others, to portraiture, quasi-structural works, audacious epics, live cine-performances, and now digital investigations his works have managed to stay exciting, inspired, and relevant. His classic Tom, Tom the Pipers Son has been named to the National Film Registry; his recent Star Spangled to Death and Razzle Dazzle were named best experimental works by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics, respectively; and his early short Little Stabs at Happiness will be included on the impressive DVD set “Treasures IV: Avant-Garde American Film 1947-1986,” coming out in March from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Jacobs and his wife Flo recently co-starred in their son Azazel Jacobs’ acclaimed feature Momma's Man.

This program, admittedly a hodge-podge, features two of his lesser-known 16mm films and a stunning recent digital video.

Window (1964, 12 mins., 16mm, color, silent)
“The moving camera shapes the screen image with great purposefulness, using the frame of a window as fulcrum upon which to wheel about the exterior scene. The zoom lens rips, pulling depth planes apart and slapping them together, contracting and expanding in concurrence with camera movements to impart a terrific apparent-motion to the complex of the object-forms pictured on the horizontal-vertical screen, its axis steadied by the audience's sense of gravity. The camera's movements in being transferred to objects tend also to be greatly magnified (instead of the camera the adjacent building turns). About four years of studying the window-complex preceded the afternoon of actual shooting (a true instance of cinematic action-painting). The film exists as it came out of the camera barring one mechanically necessary mid-reel splice.” (KJ)

Globe (1971, 22 mins, 16mm in 3D using the Pulfrich effect, color, sound on cassette)
“Flat image (of snowbound suburban housing tract) blossoms into 3D only when viewer places Eye Opener before the right eye. (Keeping both eyes open, of course. As with all stereo experiences, center seats are best. Space will deepen as one views further from the screen.) The found-sound is X-ratable (not for children or Nancy Reagan) but is important to the film's perfect balance (GLOBE is symmetrical) of divine and profane.” (KJ)

Krypton Is Doomed
(2005, 34 mins., video, sound, color)
This work is derived from one of my Nervous Magic Lantern performances, which are created with a hand-manipulated projector and use neither film nor video. Highly stroboscopic and hallucinatory, these kinetic performances result in otherworldly spaces and plays of near-abstraction and suggestive imagery. In Krypton Is Doomed, the audio accompaniment to the shifting visuals is an installment of a Superman radio play — the first ever broadcast, in 1940. (KJ)

“In his 5th floor walk-up on NY's pre-fashionable Lower East Side, Jack Smith was determined to complete the beautification of his kitchen cabinet. AIDS was pressing. His friends pitched in, accepting slave status. Jack demanded this and Jack demanded that but because he wanted it perfect (as he had wanted his films to be perfect), and because perfection proved elusive, the remodeling finally had to be abandoned. Each friend going her or his own sad way. We are living under the imminent threat of GODS. The Republican Party ploy of allying with the religious right for votes proved shortsighted (grasping individuals tend to be shortsighted) and our religious crazies are now frustrated, concerned they might be cheated of prophetic fulfillment. You've got to hand it to those who resist, for the sake of the grass and the animals and the children, and for the preservation of the occasional work of art among the Faberge egg; who knows but that they will succeed against all odds and swerve their respective societies in time away from sure doom. We like to think so and it's easy to, after a lot of movies and the fact that all the living are beneficiaries of the ones who made it through, all those Papas and especially Mamas that did succeed in sending forward their young. In the late 1930's two Jewish teenagers came up with the story of a couple that sent their infant child on a lone trip of escape through space from an exploding planet. We all know the story: the boy would survive on Earth but would have to keep his identity secret. Were Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel dreaming out loud? Was Krypton actually the Old World heading into WW 2 and was the child -with his secret identity- escaping the fate of the Jews of Europe? (Put aside for a moment your stress regarding Israel, intended as a refuge from genocide.) The Jews then, all of us now. Jack's friends failed to convince him to make a will. ‘Why bother?,’ he asked. ‘To protect your work in the future.’ ‘The future?,’ Jack replied, ‘The future will be worse.’" (KJ)

Admission: $7.00-10.00 sliding scale